Senator Aloysius Etok
By Dele Ogbodo
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Senator Aloysius Etok, Tuesday insisted that the Chairman Presidential Task Team on Pension Reform (PTTPR), Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, must appear before the committee to defend himself over allegations of N195 billion fraud allegations levelled against him.
Reacting to statements credited to Maina that he had recovered several billion of pensioners fund, Etok while briefing journalists at the National Assembly, said since a notice of warrant signed by the Senate President David Mark had been served on him last week mandating him to appear before the committee today, he has to respect a constituted authority by appearing before the committee today.
Etok, however, dispelled insinuations that the committee overseeing the task team had been compromised.
He said: “I can tell you on behalf of the committee that we have never compromised and we will never do so. “We are not biased. To say we have colluded with pension thieves is a mere concoction to distract us. Why didn’t he say this before now?”
He said Maina would have to prove himself before the Senate today that the committee is being misinformed and misled by a cabal: “Let him mention the cabal. One thing we have done very well is making sure we don’t deal with anybody appearing before us beyond appearance.
“If there are cabals, he is the biggest cabal. We have assured him of a fair hearing. You can imagine the level of punishment a single individual has unleashed on thousands of pensioners.”
But he goes around using the media to lie to the public,” Etok stated.
According to him: “I suspect he has godfathers backing him because no ordinary Nigerian will be so arrogant and exhibit such level of exuberance without some backers, not minding the laws of the land or the civil service rules. Without having godfathers or believing is something giving him false hope.”
While urging him to step forward and mention the pension thieves, he added: “The committee has been fair-minded and transparent. We sought data from the accounts generated on the exact funds released.
“We asked Maina all these but he was dodging the questions the only time we meet. Why is he running from pillar to post in the performance of this pension probe.”
Etok admitted that they might stepped on toes in the course of carrying out their constitutional duties.
He added: “I realised perhaps that some of us may have stepped on very powerful toes and I can tell you that pension cabal is worse than oil cabal because in pension there are so many people involved and it has taken such a long time of operation that when you are touching one, you don’t know the linkages because pension fraud kingpin does not go to collect all the monies himself.”
He said: “When he took over the police pension office, he had about 7,000 files, already verified, waiting for gratuity payment and he never paid them, while the people are languishing in abject poverty. If you haven’t paid gratuity, you are not entitled to go into pension. He claimed he has reduced his payment from N1.1billion to N500,000 and in a document submitted to the Accountant-General, he claimed he was paying the police N500 million gratuity monthly out of which the minimum he returns was over N900 million.”